In grandmother's time whites were dried on the clothesline and got their brightness from the natural bleaching action of the sun. Fabrics now seldom see the light of washday and have to be treated in the home laundry. Here are some hints on keeping whites at their best from the experts at Woolite.
* Always sort whites into a separate load. Adding even the softest pastels will result in some color exchange.
* Follow directions on garment care for washing, washability, water temperature and drying. Garments often look the same but need different care. U.S. clothing manufacturers are required by law to provide care labels. But here's the catch. Since manufacturers are required to list only one procedure, they often recommend dry cleaning to protect themselves. Yet many garments are also washable by hand or in a gentle cycle. Recognizing when it's safe to wash can save fabric from repeated exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals.
* Use the gentle cycle and the coolest water temperature whenever possible.
* To prevent yellowing, avoid using fabric softeners on white fabrics.
* Go easy on the bleach. There are two types: chlorine and non-chlorine. If you want to brighten, try an all-fabric, non-chlorine bleach. Durable white cottons can take chlorine, but over time the fabric may be weakened. Chlorine may also fray collars and dissolve stitching.